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8 Simple Ways to Preserve Your Disabled Adult Child's Social Security Benefits for When You Can No Longer Work

Thursday, 12 May 2016 10: 39
Written by Joni B. Bailey
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Social security disability insurance claims for disabled adult children

Did you know that Social Security Retirement Survivors and Disability Insurance benefits and Medicare coverage are available for a disabled adult child when an insured parent retires, becomes disabled, or dies if the child’s disability began before age 22 and the child is not married?

Social Security is more than just a retirement benefit program.  This brochure published by the Social Security Administration, Understanding the Benefits, is an excellent overview of how a person becomes insured and how family members can receive benefits, too.

There are 8 simple things parents can do while the child is between the age of 18 and 22 to make it easier for the child to receive Social Security Insurance benefits and Medicare when the parent retires, becomes disabled, or dies:

1.  File a Supplemental Security Income claim when the child graduates from high school.

This will result in a finding of disability prior to age 22 and entitle the child to Supplemental Security Benefits. Later, when a parent dies, retires, or becomes disabled, the unmarried dependent adult child (now probably in his or her 40’s or 50’s) will be eligible for survivor’s benefits and Medicare without waiting for a long administrative process that depends on records that could be lost or unavailable.

2.  Get a complete copy of the entire Special Education file for the child, including outside assessments, vocational training, and incident reports.  

These records are destroyed a few years after the child graduates from high school.

3.  Take advantage of opportunities for extended public schooling after age 18.

These services provide insight into the child’s vocational limitations.

4.  Enroll the child in an independent living training program.

This will result in detailed vocational and psychological assessments that objectively describe the child’s functional limitations.

5.  Document failed work attempts.

Personnel files, letters from co-workers, and letters from supervisors can illustrate the problems your child has coping in a competitive workplace.

6.  Adjust the estate plan of parents and grandparents so that the disabled child’s inheritance goes into a Special Needs Trust.

If your child qualifies for Supplemental Security Income because of a disability, inheriting money can make him or her ineligible.

7.  Document inability to maintain a household.

Photographs, eviction notices, and statements of landlords will show that your child cannot meet the responsibility of maintaining a household.

8.  Encourage your child to follow the doctors’ and therapists’ advice and avoid use of drugs and alcohol.

Non-compliance with medical advice and use of drugs and alcohol can result in an unfavorable decision in a Social Security claim.

Most families realize that their disabled adult child is not going to be able to hold down a full time job, maintain a household, and support a family.  They want to make sure the child’s needs are still met when the parents are no longer working.  Planning when the adult child is young will make the transition from Supplemental Security Income to Disabled Adult Child Insurance benefits as smooth as possible.


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